I am back after having spent the best week with my wife on our honeymoon. We took a trip down to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to enjoy the warmth and the sun. It was so nice to get away from everything and our responsibilities for a while and simply enjoy being with each other. We got to sleep in every day, eat lots of good food, and only do the things that we wanted to do. It was the longest that either of us had vacationed since before the pandemic. It was much needed.
For the most part, we spent our time just hanging out on the beach. We rented an apartment that was only a few steps from the sand. There’s nothing that beats seeing the ocean every morning when you wake up. One of my favorite things to do at the beach is to go out and play in the waves. I turn into a little kid out there. I love to throw my body into the wave just as it crests and comes crashing down. I’m always amazed at how much force there is in it. I weigh about 185 pounds, and the water tosses me around like I’m no more significant than the seaweed that goes floating by.
One afternoon while I was out in the ocean, I stopped to just take in the scene. I looked out across the face of the sea, deep into the horizon. The only thing that I could see was the water as it turned from cyan to turquoise to a dark blue. There were a few boats and the occasional passing of a plane, but I was taken aback by the sheer magnificence of God’s creation. Then, another wave came crashing down on me. I thought to myself, “This is true joy.”
I looked back at my beautiful wife as she was sitting on the beach reading a book. She gave me a smile and waved at me; I returned the gesture. She was also experiencing joy. She has no interest in being out in the deep water and being pummeled by the power of the ocean. She enjoys sitting in a beach chair, soaking up the sun, and diving into a book. I thought about how both of us were experiencing joy— but not in the same way.
Joy is an interesting feeling. Too often, it is confused for happiness, but they are not the same. Happiness is fleeting and temporary, but joy is deeper and eternal. Joy is like happiness that endures through all struggles, trials, and tribulations. Something that brings you true joy will reverberate in your heart well after the moment has passed. It is, according to Galatians 5, one of the chief characteristics of someone who has the Holy Spirit in them.
Did you know that Jesus never once talked about happiness? At no point in the Gospels does he say that he wants us to be happy. Now, I don’t think that he desires us to be unhappy, but he was fully aware that those emotions are fleeting. He does talk about joy quite a few times. In John 15:11, Jesus promises that those who believe in him will have his joy. He tells us that a believer is someone who receives his words with joy in Matthew 13. In John 16, he said that he will turn our grief into joy, no one will be able to take it away from us, and it will be complete. Not happiness—joy.
We were all created for joy. Joy is found in those things that make us feel most alive. It’s not just something that will briefly put a smile on your face, but you will feel it deep in your soul as well. You probably already know what those things are. My advice: spend as much time in them as you can. This all comes with the caveat that these things need to fall in line with scripture and not bring harm to you or anyone else.
God knows what those things that bring you joy are, and he wants you to chase after them. He understands that this world will beat you down from time to time and steal your happiness, but nothing can touch the joy that he’s given to you. That’s why we need to spend and be spent in those things. Life is hard, happiness is fleeting, joy is enduring. Find your joy, first in him, and then in whatever it is that he has created your heart to be passionate about. In those things, you will not only find enjoyment but God as well.
If you liked this, then I think that you’ll enjoy my book. You can buy it by going here. Also, I have started a His Kingdom/ Our Good podcast. It’s available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, and Anchor.